GENERAL ELECTION: 27 days and counting

With 27 days to go until polling day, we review the last seven days of the General Election.

Headlines

  • The draft Labour manifesto was leaked to the press this week. The reaction to its contents was mixed. Whilst the Telegraph condemned the document as the most interventionist, fiscally reckless, left wing proposal of any party since the 1980s, the Mirror said that it is full of “highly popular” policies, such as nationalising rail franchises, abolishing tuition fees and state intervention to cut energy bills.
  • Jeremy Corbyn’s car ran over a BBC cameraman and Len McCluskey fell over. Fair to say the press around the leak was not best handled. It blindsided the leadership. On the way to a Labour meeting, Corbyn’s car ran over a reporter’s foot and Unite General Secretary Len McCluskey fell over whilst descending the stairs on his way out.
  • Tim Farron also fell over. During a live broadcast on Sky News, Tim Farron was seen tripping over on the Lib Dem campaign bus. In a completely separate announcement, the Lib Dems said they would decriminalise cannabis. Farron also got to drive a hover craft this week.
  • Theresa May appeared on the One Show with her husband Philip. Philip appeared the more comfortable of the two taking personal questions. Theresa raised a few eyebrows, saying in their household “there are boy jobs and girl jobs”. She also recounted a somewhat suspect story about a time a young woman in Parliament told her, “your shoes got me involved in politics”.
  • Labour and the Lib Dems both pledged more education funding. Labour proposed a £5bn increase covered by an increase in corporation tax, and the Lib Dems promised a further £7bn, paid for by staying in the single market.
  • Theresa May borrowed from Ed Miliband on energy. The Prime Minister suggested that the Tory manifesto would contain a price cap on energy prices, similar to the price freeze in the 2015 Labour manifesto. The Lib Dems, industry leaders and allegedly several Tory candidates were sceptical about whether the proposal would be effective. The draft Labour manifesto included a similar proposal.
  • Jeremy Corbyn gave a speech on defence and foreign policy. He said there would be “no more hand holding with the US”, and that a Labour Government would introduce a Minister for Peace. Despite saying that Labour would continue with the new nuclear deterrent, he refused again to categorically say if he himself would ever press the nuclear button.

 Polls apart

There have been minimal changes to what the polls are showing in the last week. An average of polls in the last seven days suggests the Tories have slightly strengthened their lead, primarily by taking support from UKIP in the aftermath of their dismal local election performance last week. Polling coming out over the weekend and early next week will be a good indicator of whether Corbyn’s policy platform is as popular as the Labour leadership claims.

The week ahead

  • Having delayed their manifesto launch from this week, the Tories are likely to publish their manifesto next week.
  • It is anticipated that Labour will formally launch their manifesto on Tuesday.
  • The Liberal Democrat manifesto is also likely to be published before the end of next week.
  • Gordon Brown and former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott will be speaking at a campaign event in Kirkcaldy on Saturday morning
  • Nicola Sturgeon will appear on the Andrew Marr Show and Peston on Sunday this weekend.
  • The leaders debate – minus the two leaders who could actually become PM – is taking place on Thursday.

The long and short of it

This could have been a fatal week for Labour following the manifesto leak. But despite some initial negative coverage, to their credit, the document is heavy with policies. It will almost certainly outweigh the Tory manifesto published next week, which is anticipated to focus on May’s core theme of strong and stable leadership.

If Labour’s left-wing policies can shift the narrative away from one about leadership, to a debate over an optimistic versus pessimistic vision for Britain, a comeback is not impossible, albeit still highly improbable. With the UKIP vote collapsing and the Conservatives flooding Eurosceptic Labour marginals with resources, Theresa May is still on course to take 60 or so seats from Labour and increase the Tory majority significantly.

Author

Jamie Leich

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